Looks like broadcasters' self regulation on the indecency front may be paying off, at least in terms of complaints.
According to the FCC's quarterly report, released Wednesday, indecency and obscenity complaints against broadcast TV and radio dropped from 157,016 in the first quarter of 2005 to 6,161 in the second. That latter figure compares to 272,818 complaints in the second quarter of 2004.
The drop since January has also been precipitous, from 138,652 in January to 14,480 in February, to 3,884 in March, to approximately 2,000 per month from April through June. January and February totals were boosted by Parents Television Council complaints against CBS' CSI (infantilism) and Without a Trace (teen orgy).
Several major media companies, including Viacom, Clear Channel, and Emmis, have settled indecency complaints with both dollars and pledges to crack down on content the FCC doesn't like, which includes the F-word in most instances, Janet Jackson's breast when viewers are expecting wholesome halftime entertainment, and some Howard Stern.
The beginning of the drop-off in complaints also dovetails with a concerted effort by the broadcast and cable industries to educate viewers about the ratings system, v-chip, and other parental-control devices.
The FCC pointed out that it receives complaints that don't involve any violations and that the mere fact of a complaint does not suggest any wrongdoing.